A Portuguese shipping management company has pleaded guilty in Charleston, South Carolina to a pollution cover-up and has agreed to pay a fine of USD1.5 million.
Portline Bulk International admitted to the falsification of the oil record book on board the Malta-flagged Achilleus bulk carrier between April 2017 and August 2018. Senior engineers on the vessel had used a “magic pipe” to bypass the ship’s oil water separator, and the chief engineer made fake entries in the oil record book to conceal the illegal overboard discharge of oily bilge water. The cover-up was revealed when the US Coast Guard inspected the ship last August.
Portline has agreed to pay a criminal fine of $1.5 million when it is sentenced at a future date, and will also be placed on organisational probation for four years.
The ship’s former chief engineer and second engineer, who had previously pleaded guilty to breaking ship pollution prevention law, have been fined a total of USD12,500 and given three years’ probation, which bans them from entering US ports and anchorages.